5 Tips for Healthy Grilling

By: Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Summertime and grilling go hand in hand, but make sure you make smart choices when it comes to what you are placing on your grill!  If you’re a big meat eater, you may want to pay attention to this: grilling meat can lead to the production of carcinogenic or cancer causing compounds.  Some of these harmful compounds, Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), form when meat, especially fatty meat, is cooked at high temperatures or charred and burned.  This summer, you can help reduce your cancer risk by wearing sunscreen and grilling wisely (like veggies!).

When you spark up your grill follow these simple tips for healthy choices:

  1. Grill more veggies and fruits!  If you ever needed a reason to eat more plant foods this summer here’s a great one; grilling and charring vegetables doesn’t produce the harmful cancer causing compounds that can be formed when grilling meats.   Try these Herb Marinated Grilled Veggie Skewers, Marinated Vegetable Kabobs and Grilled Fruit Kabobs.
  2. Skip the grill and bring juice to your next BBQ!  Check out this BBQ Blow Out juice full of seasonal summer veggies.
  3. Boost your protein intake at your next picnic with beans.  Go for a tasty Black Bean Burger in place of meat and take a look at Camp Reboot Health Coach, Lyra Lemieux’s Cowboy Caviar recipe.
  4. Cut down on time and fat.  Choose lean meats – for red meat, look for lean grass-fed beef.  Reduce heat on the grill, flip your meat often to help avoid charring, and cover your grill or wrap your meat in aluminum foil to limit direct contact with the grill.  Pre-cook your meat to reduce time on the grill; less time can mean less exposure to carcinogenic compounds.
  5. Choose a marinade with lemon and rosemary.  Thinner, more acidic marinades are less likely to burn compared to a thicker, more sugary marinade.

Enjoy your summer BBQ and keep in mind that physical activity, consuming a rainbow of fruits and vegetables and maintaining a healthy weight are great ways to help reduce your risk of developing cancer.

Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Stacy is a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and an Integrative Nutritionist. She consults for various companies, focusing on health, wellness and innovative strategies to help increase individual’s fruit and vegetable intake. Stacy is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health Fitness Specialist; she holds a BS degree in Dietetics from Indiana University, completed her dietetic internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, and earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Senior Clinical Nutritionist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School teaching affiliates, in Boston, MA, with more than 20 years of experience. Stacy created and now serves as project manager and lead writer for nutrition services content on the Dana Farber website and the affiliated, nationally recognized nutrition app. Stacy is regularly featured on TV, radio, print and social media on behalf of Dana Farber and other organizations. Together with her husband, Dr. Russell Kennedy PsyD, they have a private practice, Wellness Guides, LLC. Stacy is an adjunct professor in Wellness and Health Coaching at William James College, currently teaching a graduate course in Health Coaching. Stacy is featured in the award winning documentary films, “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2,” and serves on the Reboot with Joe Medical Advisory Board. Stacy lives in Wellesley with her husband, two sons and three dogs. She enjoys cooking, yoga, hiking and spending time with friends and family. Stacy is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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